Amazon Vs. Shopify: Which Is Right For You?

Amazon Vs. Shopify: Which Is Right For You?

Many companies who decide to sell online have a tough decision to make: Should I sell on Amazon or Shopify (via my own website)? If you’ve never been down this path before, it can feel overwhelming. But comparing Amazon versus Shopify and understanding your business goals can help you make the right decision! 

After all, Amazon and Shopify serve two different purposes. Amazon is an ideal choice for businesses that would like to be hands-off during the selling and fulfillment process, and Shopify is superior for brands that want greater control over the shopping experience.

Of course, there’s much more nuance to it than that, so jump to the section relevant to you to help you make the right decision:

Side-By-Side Comparison of Amazon Vs. Shopify
Amazon Advantages
Amazon Disadvantages
Shopify Advantages
Shopify Disadvantages
Deciding Between Amazon and Shopify For Your Business: Questions to Ask
Get More Support In Choosing Between Amazon and Shopify

Side-By-Side Comparison of Amazon Vs. Shopify

Here’s how Amazon and Shopify stack up against each other:

TypeOnline MarketplaceWebsite Platform & Host
PriceIndividual Plan: $0.99 per item sold
Professional Plan: $39.99 per month
$39-$399 per month
Transaction FeesReferral fee based on product category, but generally between 8% and 20%, with additional variablesShopify Payments: 0%
External Gateways: 0.5-2%
CustomizationLimited to pictures and textFull website builder and access to free and paid templates
FulfillmentAmazon FBAShopify Fulfillment Network
SupportAmazon Seller Support Team24/7 Live Chat & Email (All plans)
Phone Support (Advanced Plans)
Full Customer Attention While ShoppingNoYes

There are some major differences between the two platforms, and we’ll explain more below:

Amazon Advantages

In general, Amazon’s low startup costs and built-in infrastructure make it ideal for companies who want to start selling immediately. Plus, anytime a company’s name can be used as a verb, you know it’s a game-changer!

But here are a few specifics on what makes Amazon a great option for certain businesses:

1. It’s a gateway to a wider audience. 

Amazon has billions of monthly visitors, and a good chunk of those may be willing to purchase your products. It takes a long time for a company website to generate that much traffic, but Amazon already has it. 

2. Easier to get started.

Amazon makes it easy to get started! Since the entire Amazon ecosystem is already established, all you need to do is create an account and then upload your images and copy to support individual products. From there, you can start marketing your products or wait for people to find you through Amazon’s search tools. 

3. Fewer startup fees. 

Amazon is also inexpensive for getting started. In fact, you could get started without paying anything until you make your first sale! And under the Individual plan, you can make it so you only pay when you make a sale—so there’s no risk to you. In addition, Amazon’s fulfillment system will reduce the cost and manual labor required from your team to get orders into the mail. 

4. Simplified fulfillment. 

Amazon has a world-renowned fulfillment process in Amazon FBA, and that takes the responsibilities of packing, labeling, and shopping out of your hands so you can focus on growing your business. To be fair, Shopify does have its own automated fulfillment service, but it’s just not on the same level as Amazon.

With all of this in mind, Amazon is great for professionals and businesses who want to start listing products for sale as soon as possible and as inexpensively as possible.

Amazon Disadvantages

Although Amazon has a few major advantages, it’s not a perfect fit for everyone, and its biggest drawbacks are related to competition and control. Here’s what you should be aware of: 

1. You’ll have to balance your website with your Amazon page. 

If you still decide to build a website, you’ll need to send your captive audience away to purchase products on Amazon. This is a big risk, as you can’t control what someone sees on Amazon. On your own website, however, you control everything. 

2. You have more competition. 

Amazon is a marketplace, meaning it is consumer-focused and sells your competitors’ products just a few pixels away from your best sellers. With so many options, your potential customers could more easily decide to go with a competitor’s product instead of shopping with you—and that could mean missing out on big deals.

3. Your success relies on Amazon’s success. 

Amazon is a $1.56 trillion company, so there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to stick around for the long haul. But there’s always a chance something could happen to it—or that it decides to change course. The government could break it up after labeling it a monopoly, or it could decide not to carry products from your industry anymore. 

Another way we look at it: What if your biggest driver of traffic was a Facebook Group you controlled? If that Facebook Group was suddenly banned from the platform or erased from the internet, you’d lose your biggest lead generator! 

Bottom line: When you sell on Amazon, you’re completely reliant on Amazon for your own success. 

Shopify Advantages

Now that we’ve scrutinized Amazon, let’s take a closer look at Shopify’s pros and cons. We’ll start with the advantages:

1. More control over the shopping experience. 

With Shopify, you get to design the entire shopping experience for your site visitors. You decide how products are displayed, how customers discover their options, and how visitors navigate from one page to another. In other words: Even though Shopify is a digital experience, you can customize it as much as you can customize a brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Learn more through our Shopify web design services.

2. Greater functionality. 

Shopify is completely user-focused, and that means you’ll have access to a few more bells and whistles to really help your products stand out during the shopping experience. 

3. Access to more business tools. 

Working in Shopify also gives you access to more tools that can help you increase sales. Two big examples: metrics and email. Shopify has plenty of user metrics you can dig into to make strategic business decisions, but you can also tie in third-party apps like GA4 and Search Console to track user behavior. Plus, Shopify’s built-in email tool can help you send abandoned cart emails and advertise exciting new sales for your customers. You get that level of technology and control from Amazon!

Shopify Disadvantages

Here are some ways Shopify might make you work a little harder to get started:

1. You’re responsible for your own web traffic. 

Some estimates show Amazon receives more than 2 billion site visits every month. For small vendors, that’s an enticing proposition. On Shopify, though, you’re responsible for attracting traffic and converting visitors into paying customers. 

With that in mind, you may need to explore social media strategies, SEO strategies, email strategies, and paid media strategies to attract more traffic to your online store.  

2. Smaller reach. 

As one of the world’s largest companies, Amazon has a boundless marketing budget to consistently attract new and existing customers to its platform. We’re willing to bet you don’t have quite as much marketing budget as Amazon (We know we don’t have that much cash on hand—but we sure would like it!), so every dollar you spend on getting traffic to your website and building your own brand matters. 

3. Greater costs. 

Selling on Shopify definitely costs more than selling on Amazon, and it’s not just because of monthly membership fees. You’ll invest time, money, and effort in designing your Shopify store, and you might even need to pay a web designer to help capture your vision. 

Deciding Between Amazon and Shopify For Your Business: Questions to Ask

Determining between Amazon and Shopify comes down to a few questions:

QuestionAnswer – YesAnswer – No
Is controlling the shopping experience important to you?Choose ShopifyChoose Amazon
Do you want the ability to customize your store?Choose ShopifyChoose Amazon
Are you capable of generating your own site traffic?Choose ShopifyChoose Amazon
Do you want great analytics and a better understanding of your customers?Choose ShopifyChoose Amazon
Do you want more tools to inform business decisions and increase sales?Choose ShopifyChoose Amazon
Do you want to limit startup costs?Choose AmazonChoose Shopify

Get More Support In Choosing Between Amazon and Shopify

To learn more about your options, contact us! We’ll help you determine whether Amazon, Shopify, or another platform is right for your eCommerce business.  

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